We all have an inner critic. Some of us have a stronger one than others. Some of us just barely have one, but either way it’s there. I can tell you that mine is rock hard strong and comes out at every chance it gets. Sometimes it’ll knock the wind right out of me. It can come out over the strangest things. Things nobody would think twice about. Things I shouldn’t think twice about. Things that aren’t even real. Things I try to push aside, but can’t because I don’t have a handle on it. One of my biggest fears and something that really bothers me is feeling or looking stupid. When I say stupid I mean actually stupid, embarrassed, foolish, vulnerable, etc. Sure, these are things none of us like to feel, but I work my life around not feeling them.
There are times when I’m walking down the street and I’ll play out in my head tripping over something on the sidewalk and how embarrassed I would feel if that happened. I’ll figure out how I would recover from that embarrassment and what my next step would be. I’ll replay it and replay it until I’m done walking or someone or something distracts my mind. Sometimes I’ll play out a situation that could happen with me in a room full of people or at the office that would be mortifying and I’ll sit and hope and pray it doesn’t happen and worry that it will because I thought about it. This probably isn’t normal and feeling this embarrassment and shame over something that’s not even real is embarrassing (there’s that word again) to admit. In fact, it’s not something I’ve ever admitted or even talking about.
I talked in my depression posts about how I don’t like to not know what I’m doing or to have to ask questions. This goes back to that. I recently started a new job and the first few months of a new job can be hard for me. I want to be perfect right away. I struggle with wanting to be the best at everything I’m doing immediately. When I’m not perfect or I make mistakes my inner critic comes out in full force. When I make mistakes, I can’t help but feel as if everyone around me is thinking or talking about how dumb I am. I replay a mistake over and over in my head and wonder how I could have avoided making that mistake and how to never do it again. When my coworkers talk about people in other offices being dumb I get nervous. I hate hearing them say things like that because I associate myself with these dumb people.
I guess I’m different in the way that I criticize myself. Sure, I criticize my body and there are things I don’t like, but I criticize my mind and my abilities more than anything. I struggle with feeling smart enough or educated enough or capable of doing things. I’m always doubting myself. I worry about everything and if it’ll make me look foolish. I was brought up to not care about what people think and for the most part I don’t. However, when I criticize myself so severally it doesn’t matter what other people think or don’t think because I’m already thinking it myself.
This is something I realize I need to work on and probably should bring up in therapy. This is a reason I spend every night in the gym. A few weeks ago, I sent an invoice to the wrong client and they emailed our AR email back saying it wasn’t their invoice. I was so embarrassed because the whole team saw my mix up. I was even more humiliated when my boss emailed me to say I needed to pay close attention. Sure, it was JUST AN EMAIL, but it ruined my entire day and left me feeling shame to the highest degree. Shame over an EMAIL that my coworkers probably didn’t even notice because we get hundreds of emails. The shame followed me home and stuck with me for hours and it wasn’t until I started my work out that I was able to clear it form my mind.
I need to cut myself some slack. I need to remind myself that people make mistakes. We all have bad days. Things happen and we move on from them. It’s not possible to go into every new situation and know exactly what to do or how to perform. You won’t be perfect at anything and you don’t need to be. You might fall on your face in front of a block of people, but who cares? You don’t know them. Get up, brush yourself off and keep walking. Now, if I could just get this message through to my inner critic that would be great.